An editorial from The Journal
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Many West Virginians have not made up their minds how to vote in the state Supreme Court race to be decided May 10, to judge by public opinion polls.
While deciding which candidate is best may be difficult, determining who is worst is easy. Because of his unsavory reputation and his politically motivated judicial activism, Darrell McGraw ought to be out of the question for the Supreme Court.
For many years justices on the court too often issued rulings that had the effect of writing new laws – and McGraw was a leader in that.
Legislators, not the court, are supposed to make the laws in West Virginia. The role of the Supreme Court is intended to be one of interpreting laws and ensuring they do not conflict with the state constitution.
For the court to do otherwise, as it did for many years, sometimes meant the rules by which Mountain State residents live were not written by our 134 elected legislators but by as few as three justices.
McGraw has one thing going for him – name recognition. His name at least rings a bell with many West Virginians, and that can be an advantage in an election.
But McGraw is known for all the wrong reasons:
While serving as a Supreme Court justice in 1984, McGraw wrote a decision that benefited him. Legislators had to step in to prevent him from claiming credit for a judicial pension for time spent doing janitorial work while a college student.
As attorney general, McGraw hired outside lawyers without competitive bidding to handle some cases. Some of them reaped enormous fees – after having donated to McGraw’s political campaigns.
Often when the state won fat lawsuit settlements, McGraw kept the money in his office instead of turning it over to the state treasury.
That gave McGraw a multi-million-dollar slush fund to use for his political campaigns while maintaining the efforts were to educate Mountain State residents. Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of refrigerator magnets, etc., were purchased with our money.
So yes, there are plenty of reasons to remember the name – and to not vote for McGraw on May 10.